Dale Breckenridge Carnegie (November 24, 1888 – November 1, 1955) was an American writer and lecturer, and the developer of famous courses in self-improvement, salesmanship, corporate training, public speaking, and interpersonal skills.
His book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,” Dale speaks about making realistic changes that can help one to stop worrying. He mentions in the preface of this wonderful book as to how he decided to write this book to help himself. He was a self-proclaimed unhappy lad in the happy city of New York. He also mentions that later in life, while he prepared himself to teach adults, he realized that one of the biggest problems faced by the everyone is that they do not know how to handle their worries, and this eats up the joy of living. He mentions that there is no textbook that teaches one to deal with their worries, and therefore he decided to write one himself.
The book is an interesting collection stories of several people from different walks of life who once experienced a lot of worry and anxiety but were able to change their life’s situation by following some practical ways to deal with worry. I have included some of the quotes that had the biggest impact on me. This book mentions techniques that are not only time-tested but also happen to be based on a simple understanding of common sense; and yet, when push comes to shove, we often find ourselves at a loss and get trapped in the downward spiral that hinders us to live life to the fullest.
Learn To Live In The Moment
The book encourages to let bygones by bygones. The important thing is to take lessons from the past and apply it. Knowledge is a power, until it is applied.
It further implores us to not over-analyse the future as most of the things that one is worried about, do not happen. It is important to plan for the future by listing down “the cause and the effect”, or the “if-&-then” analysis, so it leads to logical planning and fills one with hope and enthusiasm for the future. However, if even this does not help relieve the unexplained anxiety, this next thought will definitely help– think of what is the worst that may happen and prepare for it. It is more than likely that one may never see the worst come to fruition, but this step will help sooth those frayed nerves.
“Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”
– Thomas Carlyle
“Shut the iron doors on the past and the future. Live in day-tight compartments.”
– Sir William Osler
Get Your Facts In Order
More often than not, a lot of us don’t even know what is the exact thing that we are worrying about? What is the real problem? So, start by introspecting and asking questions like – What is the exact problem? What is the cause of the problem? What are all the possible solutions, and what solution would be the most feasible?
“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”
– Charles Kettering
“Face the facts: Quit worrying; then do something about it!”
Get Too Busy To Worry
Our mind finds it nearly impossible to do (or think of) two things at a time. So, the best way to get rid of worries and anxiety is to distract yourself and get busy with something else.
Don’t Bother Over Small Things
Shift your mind from trifles to things that matter. Don’t let yourself be upset over things that are better left forgotten.
“Life is too short to be little.”
Make Peace With the Inevitable
There are certain things on which one has not control over. So, it is futile worrying over these things. It is better to try and let things go and align ourselves with the flow.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
-Dr Reinhold Niebuhr
Put A Stop-Loss Order On Your Worries
People’s ability to write-off their worries and to move on determines how happy they are in their lives.
Cultivate the Habit of Positive Thinking
Our minds have incredible power to transform our lives. When minds are filled with positive thoughts of strength, the actual physical power increases exponentially.
“You are not what you think you are; but what you think, you are.” – Norman Vincent Peale
One Step At A Time
By taking each day as it comes and pledging to make most of it, one can add meaning and value to their lives. It can be done by adopting the mental attitude of ‘Just for today’ – Just for today, I will be happy; just for today, I will take care of myself; just for today, I will strengthen my mind, so on and so forth. It is suggested, in the book, that one must make their own “just for today” pledge each day.
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
– Abraham Lincoln
It is natural for people to forget to be grateful hence, most fail to express and in turn, also do not expect gratitude. But gratitude can be cultivated. Being grateful has immense positive impact on an individual, as well as an organization. It can help by releasing all the trapped energies.
Gratitude can be expressed in simple ways like aiming to put a smile on someone’s face, by appreciating one’s blessings in life, and by keeping your faith alive.
Develop a habit of taking adequate time off and resting often. This will help in quieting the nerves, that will in turn help in bringing focus to the important things.
For me, this book reinforces the idea of what makes life worthwhile is not just the adventures and achievements, but also the inevitable hurdles, hardship and challenges, because without the latter the former has no meaning. This book reinforces the idea of
Que sera sera – What Will Be Will Be,
but the fact that long-lost common sense of dealing with the turmoil is the missing spice in the recipe of life.